Tips for diabetics on fasting for Ramadan
Fasting during Ramadan is a personal choice for diabetic patients and more than 50 million people globally could be making this choice. However, this should be done after consulting with a doctor and under proper medical supervision. A pre-Ramadan diabetes assessment is recommended so that patients can be made aware of individual risks and given strategies to minimise these risks.
“Fasting during Ramadan requires a person to take two meals a day with a long gaps in between. Modifying consumption patterns lead to changes in the body metabolism and diabetics should adjust their treatment plan accordingly. The patient and family members must be aware of the warning symptoms and keep the concerned doctor in the loop at all times. Avoid consuming highly refined and fatty foods after breaking the fast. If there are any signs of complications of Hypoglycaemia, the patient is advised to break the fast,” said Dr.Shehla Shaikh, KGN Diabetes and Endocrinology Center.
Some problems that could arise as a result of fasting for a diabetic are hypoglycaemia or sudden fall in blood sugar levels, causing seizures and unconsciousness; hyperglycaemia or an inordinate increase in blood sugar levels; diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening complication causing vomiting, dehydration, deep gasping breathing, confusion & coma; and thrombosis which leads to formation of a blood clot inside blood vessel.
Patients with type 1 diabetes who have a history of recurrent hypoglycemia or who are poorly controlled are at a higher risk should they fast. Hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia may also occur in patients with type 2 diabetes but generally less frequently and with less severe consequences as compared to patients with type 1 diabetes.
What care should a diabetic take:
- Consult the doctor and follow medical advice on diet and medication. The type of food permitted and the frequency of diabetes monitoring will differ from patient to patient since different bodies react differently. The doctor might also advise regulation of medicine dosage and timing
- Frequent monitoring is key to safe fasting for diabetics. It is critical for patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes on insulin to monitor their blood sugar level multiple times through the day
- Ask the doctor for a daily meal plan. In general diabetics should avoid or curtail excessive intake of carbohydrates and fats during the evening meal. They should eat more fruits and vegetables. Dehydration is an ever present concern for a diabetic during Ramadan. Fluid intake during the non-fasting period should therefore be high.
- Beverages containing caffeine and high sugar levels should be avoided since they increase the risk of dehydration.
It is worth reemphasizing that fasting during Ramadan is a personal choice for a diabetic. The decision should be made keeping in mind guidelines for religious exemptions and after careful consideration of the associated risks after a detailed discussion with the doctor.
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